Each year my church Life Group holds its Christmas party at a very remote farm in one of the widest upland areas in northern England. The farm is about 16 – 20 miles away from my home.
Twice I have driven to this place, by myself, with no problem, in poor driving conditions. This year was different.
Firstly, I was running late because I’d had to go back home to pick up something I had forgotten. It had been 12 months since I’d done this route.. Secondly, I had my dog with me.
As I drove up onto the moorland in the pitch, pitch black I thought, ‘Wow – this place really is remote. How much further can this be?’
A car behind me was driving too close. The headlights were shining in my eyes. Fortunately, the car turned off and I went on my way.
But then I realised that the scenery had changed – and I didn’t recognise it. Walls had disappeared. All I could see was road (more a track) and reed beds. And very deep darkness.
It struck me that the car behind me had been turning into the right place – the farm, my destination. It was I who was wrong. I’d overshot the mark.
No problem, I would turn in the road.
I got halfway through my three point turn… Disaster. I couldn’t reverse. The grassy verge wasn’t firm ground at all. It was bog – literally! The reeds should have been a clue. My wheels were stuck fast in the mud. I couldn’t move. My muscle problems meant I couldn’t push my way out nor could I walk to the nearest building (which was probably the farm itself). And I was blocking the road.
I got my mobile phone out. Would there even be a signal?
I rang the pastor’s wife. No reply. I rang the pastor. No reply. I rang again. Still no-one answered. Busy with party prep and entertaining. I was now nearly fifty minutes late. Would anyone twig that I wasn’t just late but in trouble? Possibly not.
Would I be here all night? Thank heavens I had the dog with me for comfort. I rang 999 and was put through to the police. I explained my predicament. I said I was scared. (I was).
The police could not find the road on their maps – it’s that remote. They hadn’t even heard of the village in the valley. Eventually they did manage to locate it and said they would send someone out. They suggested I call my rescue service but, tbh, I felt incredibly vulnerable and, in my panic, I thought the police would be the best bet.
As I was waiting I recalled that one of my good male friends, who I knew was due at the party, is usually ‘switched on’ to his mobile. I tried him. Joy! He replied. The signal gave out but I had time to convey my predicament and location.
Minutes later car headlights came bobbing along the road. Three strong men from my group came along. One got in my car, the other two pushed. In seconds I was free. My ordeal was over. The pastor stayed with me and I rang the police to cancel my emergency rescue. We went on to the party and had a jolly time.
What happened was, in the end, not that dramatic. I was stuck, I was rescued. All I suffered really was embarrassment.
But much later on, when I got home about midnight, I felt tearful. How vulnerable I can be. Recent, severe floods and extensive power cuts up here have made me realise this too.
God was faithful, as they say. I was okay. But it’s shaken me.